Though the Philadelphia Phillies missed the postseason for the 10th consecutive year in 2021, October baseball has once again provided their fans with a favorite annual pastime: the ability to live vicariously through the exploits of former Phillies.
We’re through two rounds of the postseason — or one, if you insist the Wild Card Game doesn’t count — and though some of those former Phils’ journeys have come to an end with their respective teams, the dreams of others live on.
Let’s recap the first couple weeks of postseason baseball in ex-Phillies land and take a look at how some of their playoff runs have fared.
Nick Pivetta, Boston Red Sox
Pivetta demonstrated two things in the American League Division Series, one of which Phillies fans knew, and one of which they most certainly did not.
The former: Pivetta is animated and unafraid to show emotion on the field, for better or for worse.
The latter: He’s well-suited to come out of the bullpen and take down the American League’s No. 2 offense in the regular season (in terms of runs), leading his team through an extra-inning marathon that culminates in a pivotal Game 3 victory. (Never mind the aid from an odd ground-rule double rule, whose existence prevented Tampa Bay from earning a key 13th-inning run against him.)
It was about as clutch as a performance can be and a stark contrast from his three-run, 4 2/3-inning outing in Game 1. Without Pivetta, Boston very well could have lost that Game 3, and its spot in the ALCS might not have been as easy to snag. As it is, Pivetta and the Red Sox remain standing.
David Robertson, Tampa Bay Rays
It feels only fitting here to mention Pivetta’s counterpart in the first two of those four Game 3 innings: David Robertson. Robertson kept the Rays alive in the 10th and 11th innings of that epic battle, surrendering a one-out hit in each but working out of trouble both times.
Robertson threw four innings across three games for the Rays in the ALDS, each of them scoreless. Unfortunately for him and Tampa Bay, he won’t have the opportunity for 2 2/3 more innings this postseason (tying his innings total across two years with the Phillies), as their season came to an unexpected end at the hands of the Red Sox.
César Hernández, Chicago White Sox
Once a leadoff hitter for the Phillies, Hernández found himself hitting in the ninth spot for Chicago in Games 3 and 4 of the ALDS, plus Game 2 as a pinch-hitter (maybe 2009 Phillie and current Sox bench coach Miguel Cairo had a say in that decision). Hernández racked up a respectable two hits across seven at bats in the postseason. One might ask: “Does he get on base?” The answer is a resounding yes: The former Phillie walked four times for a .545 postseason OBP.
Hernández could have turned all 11 of those plate appearances into home runs, and it still likely wouldn’t have mattered for the White Sox, who were thoroughly overmatched in a four-game ALDS loss to the Houston Astros.
Charlie Morton, Atlanta Braves
This is probably one ex-Phillie through whom fans would prefer not to live vicariously this time of year.
Morton’s first NLDS start (six innings, two runs in Game 1) was much more effective than his second (a 3 1/3-inning, two-run outing in Game 4) — but the Braves came away with the loss in Game 1 and the series-clinching win over the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 4.
Despite the loss, that Game 1 outing was Morton’s most dominant start since … (checks notes) … his seven-inning scoreless masterpiece that effectively eliminated the Phillies from realistic postseason contention just 10 days prior.
Morton appears lined up to toe the rubber in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers — or, though less likely, maybe he goes on short rest again in Game 1 due to his relatively low pitch count of 69 on Tuesday. Either way, the many-time big-game pitcher has repeatedly shown that he’s up to the task.
Footnote: Perhaps former Phillies pitching coach and current Braves pitching coach Rick Kranitz is partially responsible for devising the gameplan that mostly stifled the Brewers’ bats in Game 1, apart from a Rowdy Tellez two-run homer. Either way, Kranitz is deserving of a mention — and sure, let’s toss in Braves catching coach Sal Fasano, a member of the 2006 Phillies, while we’re at it.
Austin Davis, Boston Red Sox
Remember him? Davis, a Phillie from 2018 until August of 2020, threw all of eight pitches for the Red Sox in the ALDS — precisely 1/3 of an inning. He issued one walk and induced a flyout to keep the Red Sox up 4-2 in the seventh inning of that wild Game 4. Boston ended up blowing that lead the following inning, but Davis earned his first postseason hold in his first postseason appearance nonetheless.
Darin Ruf, San Francisco Giants
The first four games of the much-anticipated Dodgers-Giants NLDS lived up to its billing. The only thing it was missing? The signature moment from former Phillie Darin Ruf that everyone expected.
But after going hitless in Games 2 and 4 and not seeing action in Games 1 and 3, Ruf provided in the winner-take-all series finale. The slugger once known in Philadelphia as “Babe Ruf” belted a 452-foot shot to center field in the sixth inning, tying the game at one apiece:
It would be the final run of the Giants’ improbable 2021 season, though, as Ruf’s team fell in a 2-1 heartbreaker. Overall, the righty went 1-for-11 with the homer and five strikeouts in the series.
José Álvarez, San Francisco Giants
Sticking with the same theme as Davis, Álvarez also threw just a third of an inning in his Division Series, closing out the bottom of the second inning of a Game 4 loss with a three-pitch flyout. (Partial credit to former Phillie and current Giants pitching coach Andrew Bailey?)
Gabe Kapler, San Francisco Giants
And of course, this list cannot be complete without the most notable ex-Phillies employee in this year’s postseason, former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler. His managerial postseason debut ended in heartbreak, but Kapler had some personal bright spots: his mixing and matching in Game 3, for example, piecing together 4 1/3 innings from his bullpen to keep the Dodgers’ potent offense at bay and hang onto a 1-0 win that gave San Francisco a 2-1 series advantage (even though it didn’t hold up). Kapler also pitched another managerial shutout in Game 1, though perhaps an easier feat given the utter dominance of Logan Webb that evening.
The Game 5 loss — which might not have even been a loss if a Wilmer Flores check swing or a questionable strike two earlier to Kris Bryant had gone the other way — shouldn’t overshadow Kapler’s accomplishment in leading a Giants team projected to win fewer than 80 games to 107 wins and an NL West crown.
Kapler won’t have the chance to cap it off with a World Series championship. But empathetic fans can find solace in the fact that, unless the Houston Astros win it all, at least one ex-Phillie will reach the promised land by early November.
MORE FROM PHILLIES NATION
- Phillies Nation Top 20 Prospects: September 2021
- Trevor Story Might Be Best Big-Ticket Target For Phillies This Winter
- Preston Mattingly Is Inheriting A Mess. Can He Turn Around The Farm System Before It’s Too Late?
- Joe Girardi Says That Phillies Anticipate Alec Bohm Continuing To Play Third Base
- The Phillies Will Once Again Look Elsewhere For A Closer
- Bryce Harper Isn’t Worried About Wasting His Prime In Philadelphia
- Why Ranger Suárez Is Bryce Harper’s Choice For NL Comeback Player Of The Year
- Andrew McCutchen Would Like To Remain With Phillies, But Knows It’s Out Of His Control
- Cy Young Or Not, Zack Wheeler Has Had One Of The Best Seasons In Phillies History
- Phillies 2021 Walk-Up Songs